Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson

Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson

Plainfield, Windham County, Connecticut, USA
Death 2 Mar 1888 (aged 57)
Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
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Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot Section 61 Lot 2952
Memorial ID 39609203 · View Source
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Clinton DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson, Comedian. This gentleman was born in Plainfield, [Windham Co.,] Conn. April 21st, 1830. He received a liberal education, and was intended for a physician, but not liking pills and potions, determined on a mercantile life. It may be well to say here, that he was, during his "babyhood," known by the illustrious cognomen of John, but his father being a somewhat erratic individual, concluded as he had no fortune to bestow on this boy, he would make up the deficiency in name, so he was henceforth to be known as "DeWitt Clinton," so the father thought; but as will be seen, was doomed to disappointment, for he has made a name for himself, and is known from Maine to Georgia as "Charlie Wilkinson." His early life was similar to that of "other boys," and at the age of 18, we find him fairly started on the great mercantile sea, the principal book-keeper in a large establishment in Providence, R. I., where he remained for three years. While here he became acquainted with several members of the theatrical profession, who advised him to try his fortune on the stage. In 1850, Dec. 10, he made his "first appearance" in Worcester, Mass., and was successful. Like all young aspirants for fame, he aspired to "tragedy" but the audiences would laugh at his tragic endeavors, which induced him to confine his efforts exclusively to comedy, and his first regular engagement was at Troy, N. Y. Here he attracted attention of the celebrated New England manager, George Wyatt, who made him such offers to travel with him, that he could not refuse; so in 1852, we find him the most popular young comedian of the day. He remained three years with Mr. Wyatt, and many a time has he sold tickets, led the orchestra (he being a good musician) and played his parts, all on the same night. Mr. Wyatt was also, a celebrated comic actor, his particular forte being "old men" and many very funny stories are told throughout New England to-day, showing the eccentricities of this favorite comic couple. The death of Mr. Wyatt, caused the subject of our sketch to look elsewhere, and probably changed the whole course of his future life.

In July, 1853, he married Miss Sarah E. Fogal, a beautiful girl of only fifteen summers at Bridgeport, [Fairfield Co.,] Conn., by whom he had one child, a bright and beautiful boy, Frank Marshall Wilkinson. The marriage proved an unhappy one for Mr. W. and after two years litigation in the Courts of Connecticut, the parties were divorced, the father retaining the child. This was another blow for him, but he immediately redoubled his exertions, and from that to the present, has been continually at work with varied success.

He has traveled every state in the Union - playing in all the principal theaters throughout the country. He has been engaged in all sorts of speculations, as manager and proprietor, agent, actor and author. Nothing comes amiss to him. He possesses the great characteristic of the family - a roving disposition. He will never be rich, neither will he be poor. He is an ardent lover of his profession and an ornament to it. He has considered himself an "outsider" so far as family goes, nearly all being opposed to his profession, but independence has been his motto, and he has never been known to ask aid from any man. He is strictly temperate, and consciencious [sic] in all his dealings. As an artist he holds a position in the front rank, and his services are always in demand. He possesses an unlimited fund of comic humor, which has brought him safely through many an emergency; as he can when he chooses, give an entire entertainment alone and unaided. He has twice been penniless, once in the panic of 1857, when he was manager of the Worcester Theatre, but he did not long remain so, for he immediately arranged an "Entertainment" and traveled through Massachusetts "showing" himself at fifteen cents a ticket; his show was in Webster, twelve miles from home, and he cleared above all expenses $8.00. This gave him capital again, and he says was the "biggest $8.00 he ever saw." He has a way of "getting out of a scrape" peculiar to himself. Like most true Yankees, you never know he is in trouble till he is out of it. We are able to say, that socially Mr. W. is a kind and generous man, no needy person ever leaves him empty-handed. He is "quick to serve and slow to injure," especially those of his own calling. His zeal often leads him into discussion in regard to his profession, and unless his opposer is extra posted, he is glad to withdraw in a brief space of time. As will be seen Mr. W. is now in the prime of life, and bids fair to reach a good old age, and the acme of his profession.

~ Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America, by Rev. Israel Wilkinson, pub. 1869; Biography No. XXIV
Charles De Witt Clinton Wilkinson (b. Apr 21, 1830). Son of Brownell Wilkinson (d. Feb. 15, 1861; son of Joseph) and Sally Ann Phillips (d. May 25, 1879; dau. of Simon and Sarah (Bailey) Phillips, m. Sarah E. Yagoo of Bridgewater, Mass. Child, Frank Marshall Wilkinson.

Brother of Tabitha Caroline Wilkinson (b. Apr. 30, 1832; m. Dr. Joseph N. Bates), John Brownell Wilkinson (b. Mar. 5, 1835, d. Aug. 29, 1835), Sarah Elizabeth Wilkinson (b. Mar. 25, 1839, d. Sep. 1, 1875, m. Henry G. Longly Sep. 1, 1862, m. 2d Andrew J. Steans), Mary Hannah Wilkinson (b. Mar. 1, 1841; m. Nov. 26, 1879 George W. Barnes, piano-maker; no children; he d. Oct. 25, 1891).

Charles De W. C. Wilkinson m. 2d Lelia Marden Lawton. He was a comedian of fair talent, and was at one time lessee and manager of the Detroit Theatre, Michigan, and also of the Worcester Theatre, Mass. He participated in the presentation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" more than six hundred times. He died of pneumonia in Worcester, Mass., Mar. 2, 1888.

~ Records of the Bailey Family: Descendants of William Bailey of Newport, R.I., by Hannah C. (Bailey) Hopkins, pub. 1895, pgs. 106-107
Son of Brownell Wilkinson and 3d wife Sarah Phillips. Born April 21, 1830.

Charles DeWitt Clinton is an actor, and the only one in the great family in America. Most every trade in the mechanic arts, every profession, lawyer, doctor, minister, teacher, and every department in commercial and mercantile pursuits, are represented, but very few have acquired much notoriety in the fine arts as artists, or as authors. He is a comedian of fair talent, and played in 1864, in Leavenworth, Kansas, New Orleans and Cincinnati, in company with Miss Gladsten, as actress of considerable repute.

He was at one time lessee and manager of the Detroit Theatre, Mich., and also of the Worcester Theatre, Mass.

He is the oldest son of Brownell by this third wife, and has been married and has one child. (pgs. 267-268).

Chas. D. W. C. Wilkinson and Sarah E. Togal, of Worcester, Mass. Son, Frank Marshall, b. Feb. 22, 1858. (pg. 306).

~ Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family in America by Rev. Israel Wilkinson, A. M., pub. 1869
1870 (Jun) Census, Worcester, Worcester, MA:
Sarah B. Wilkinson, 58, keeping house, b RI.
Caroline T., 37, asst. housekeeper, b CT.
Charles C., 40, comedian, b CT.
Frank M., 12, at school, b CT.
Mary, 28, serving in shop, b CT.
Sarah E. Longley, 29, works in piano shop, b CT.
1880 (Jun) Census, Worcester, Worcester, MA:
George H. Barnes, 46, occupation illegible, b MA, parents MA.
Mary H. Barnes, 36, wife, keeping house, b CT, parents RI.
Frank M. Wilkinson, 22, neph-in-law, druggist, b MA, fthr CT, mthr NY.
Charles Wilkinson, 50, bro-in-law, theatrical manager, b CT, parents RI.
Lillie Wilkinson, 39, sis-in-law, actress, b England, parents England.

Family Members



Charles D. C.
1831 – 1888
Lillie His Wife
1840 – 1920




  • Created by: Linda Applegate Brown
  • Added: 18 Jul 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 39609203
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles DeWitt Clinton Wilkinson (21 Apr 1830–2 Mar 1888), Find A Grave Memorial no. 39609203, citing Hope Cemetery, Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Linda Applegate Brown (contributor 46791676) .